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Google up to $9.4 billion in total fines to EU, with latest $1.7 billion AdSense penalty

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The European Commission has fined Google $1.7 billion for illegally favoring its own AdSense in search advertising, bringing the company's total fines for anticompetitive behavior so far in the region to $9.42 billion.

"Google is fined 1.49bn for illegal practices in search advertising brokering to cement its dominant market position," announced Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, on Twitter. "They shouldn't do that — it denied consumers choice, innovative products and fair prices."

"Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites," she said. "This is illegal under EU antitrust rules."

Speaking in Brussells, Vestager further added that Google prevented its rivals from being able to compete fairly.

"The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits," she continued, "and consumers the benefits of competition."

Google has not as of yet provided any direct comment about the AdSense case, but instead addresses concerns from previous European Commission rulings. Specifically, he responds to the July 2018 decision of the Commission to fine Google $5 billion for how it required Android smartphone producers to install Google apps.

While not responding specifically about the decision, Google's Kent Walker, senior vice president of Global Affairs, issued a press release about the company's relationship with the Commission. "For nearly a decade, we've been in discussions with the European Commission about the way some of our products work," he said. "Throughout this process, we've always agreed on one thing — that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone's interest."

Walker says that Google has been listening carefully to the rulings and feedback over time. Google is promising "further updates" to products in Europe to comply with the rulings.

Extract from Google's latest blog about working with the European Commission

"We changed the licensing model for the Google apps we build for use on Android phones," Walker wrote. "In doing so, we maintained the freedom for phone makers to install any alternative app alongside a Google app. Now we'll also do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones."

As well as the fines for restrictions on Android phone makers and this most recent ruling about search advertising, the European Commission also fined Google $2.7 billion in 2017. The $2.7 billion fine was for a case where the European Commission concluded that the company's comparison shopping service was unfairly weighted toward Google.

"Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals," Vestager said at the time. "Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors."

The European Commission is currently now investigating Apple following an official complaint from Spotify over alleged anti-competitive practices to do with the App Store and Apple Music. Apple refutes the accusation and the case is continuing.